PerspectivePlant Biology

A layered defense against plant pathogens

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Science  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 568-569
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5619

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Summary

Diseases affecting crops take a toll on agricultural yields worldwide. Strategies to eradicate or mitigate these pathogens include breeding resistant genotypes, crop rotation, and chemical or biological treatments. A phenomenon called “suppressive soils” has attracted considerable interest because such soils can reduce disease incidence despite pathogen presence, a susceptible host, and favorable conditions for infection. If the secrets of suppressive soils could be unlocked, it might be possible to confer suppressiveness to other soils without the risks and losses associated with repeated cropping on disease-affected fields. Suppressive soils have long been suspected to be mediated by microbiota, particularly because suppressiveness is lost upon sterilization and can be transferred from one soil to another through mixing. On page 606 of this issue, Carrión et al. (1) demonstrate that they can confer disease suppressiveness when specific bacteria are added as a consortium to a conducive soil.

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